Thursday, December 27, 2007

GPS & Geocaching

For our Christmas gift to each other, Ed & I bought a Garmin Nuvi 350 GPS unit. The list price is $480, we paid a little over $300. Oh, if this technology had been available so inexpensively five years ago, it would have made my job as navigator so much easier when we were on our Great Adventure cross-country trip! But now we have it and it will come in handy as we navigate Tampa this winter since we are new to the area. GPS will help Ed locate customers when they call for Protech Mobile RV Service.

Now that we own our own GPS, we can participate in the sport of Geocaching. Never heard of it? Neither had we, until we met fellow RVers Karen and Guy at Jekyll Island in April of 2006. They explained that participants hide and seek "caches" of trinkets, using coordinates published on the interactive web site Karen and Guy invited us to tag along on one of their hunts. We trekked through the woods in a nature preserve full of wildlife and found an ammo box with the cache inside. It's a high-tech treasure hunt for grown ups and a great way for all of us, adults and kids, to get outdoors and have fun! Watch this video to see how it works.

Treasure Near Your House! Can You Find It? - video powered by Metacafe

The first step is to visit the Geocaching web site and type in your zip code to get a list of caches in your vicinity. Ready for our first venture and armed with a printout of each cache that we wanted to search for, Ed entered the coordinates into the GPS unit.

We knew that there were two caches located just a couple of miles from us at Sargeant Park here in Thonotosassa, FL.

The first one, according to the web site, was along a 1/4 mile long boardwalk.

We crossed the wetlands and were rewarded with a river view, shared with a group of canoers.

As I homed in the target area according to the GPS coordinates, Ed searched for the cache. This one turned out be velcroed to the underside of one of the park benches. Here is Ed exploring the loot.

Next step is to sign the logbook.

Next it was my turn to search. The GPS led us to a dirt trail. With the dogs, we walked along, checking the GPS, learning to avoid tree cover that would block the satellite signal. In about 15-20 minutes, I found the cache hidden at the base of a live oak tree.

This cache was a camouflaged jar filled with trinkets.

We took a small kaleidoscope and left a tiny Christmas ornament. It is customary, although not required, to take something and leave something and sign the logbook. Then, once home, we visited the geocaching web site again, logged in, and recorded our finds. Our geocaching user name is (surprise, surprise) "protechrv" if anyone wants to connect with us through geocaching.

Thank you so much, Karen & Guy, for getting us interested in this exciting adventure!

Thanks to my sister-in-law, Gina, I now have a web photo album account at Gina and my other sister-in-law and blog fan, Mary, have suggested that I include more photos on the blog. So if you would like to see additional photos taken at Sargeant's Park, click here to visit my web album. It includes these photos plus a 1/2 dozen more of the landscape and wildlife.

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